Episode 122: 5 Lessons Learned Over the Past Four Years

Episode 122: 5 Lessons Learned Over the Past Four Years

Work Your Wealth
Work Your Wealth
Episode 122: 5 Lessons Learned Over the Past Four Years
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One of the fun parts of being a financial planner is getting to discuss some of the money moves we’ve made in our household knowing clients and readers are going through similar things. In these Work Your Wealth episodes I’ll be taking time to address how we approached the different money situations and the results of our decisions. Today I’m talking about what has happened since the merger with Abacus Wealth Partners, what Workable Wealth looks like now, how we’ve been getting through the pandemic and changes I’ve made to align my career with my values.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:

  • The timeline of the Work Your Wealth Podcast
  • The reason behind launching the podcast and writing the Work Your Wealth book
  • The 5 lessons I’ve learned in doing the Work Your Wealth podcast
  • The potential rewards that could come with putting yourself out there and taking risks
  • The importance of doing what you love
  • Why you have to recognize when it is time to evolve
  • The one person that will always look out for you most
  • Where you can continue to find the Work Your Wealth content and where you can continue to connect with Mary Beth

LINKS WE MENTIONED ON THE SHOW:

LET’S CONNECT!

ENJOY THE SHOW?

How to Reset Your Finances in a Pandemic

How to Reset Your Finances in a Pandemic

When you look back on 2020and the pandemic, what would you like to reset?

Perhaps it’s more time with your loved ones, better work-life balance, adopting healthier eating habits, getting more sleep, or using your money wisely. There are likely many areas of your life that you want to revamp. The whirlwind of 2020 taught us many lessons – how to work, maintain relationships, and experience personal growth during a pandemic. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to change their behaviors, especially with money. Make 2021 the year you take intentional steps to improving your life and your finances. How can you accomplish that goal? Here are 5 ways you can reset your finances in a pandemic.

1. Set New Goals that Reflect Your Values.

When you survive something difficult your outlook on life – especially  goals and priorities – tends to shift. While your top priority before the pandemic might have been getting a promotion, maybe you’ve realized your job isn’t fulfilling so much as it puts food on the table. 

This year, maybe change your goal to search for a career you’re passionate about – one with visible impact that offers the joy and balance you need. Take the time to reevaluate your goals. There are some you might not have been able to reach last year and others you want to makeover. Ask yourself:

  • How have my priorities shifted during the pandemic? In what ways should my goals reflect that change?
  • What progress have I made on my current long-term goals like retirement?
  • Were there any goals I put on the backburner? Can I give them a new life in 2021?

One way to give your goals a fresh purpose is to make them SMART. Smart goals clarify the goal-setting process because they ask you to think more critically and thoughtfully about each goal you bring to the table.

Let’s break down this acronym using the example of finding a more meaningful job:

  • Specific
    • Find a job where you can make an impact.
  • Measurable
    • Engage in a meaningful job search (a.k.a no rapid applying). Thoughtfully research companies and only apply to positions aligned with your definition of impact and fulfillment.
  • Attainable
    • Ensure you have the proper education and experience. Should one area fall short, see how you can fill the gap (i.e courses, networking, etc). 
  • Relevant
    • Make sure each position you apply for is aligned with your goals and values.
  • Time-bound
    • Set a time frame for finding your new job (such as an ideal 6-month job hunt).

Now is the time to reassess what’s most important to you and to organize your life around those elements. Taking a meaningful approach to your goals will help you achieve them. 

The pandemic may have altered your priorities and that’s okay. Take the time to clearly articulate those priorities and how your financial resources can support them in the coming year. 

2. Adjust Your Finances for Life Changes.

If there’s anything the 2020 pandemic taught us, it’s that things change. You may have had a 5-year financial plan, but as the saying goes, “Life likes to get in the way.” The pandemic may have moved you into a bigger house or maybe you even started (or added to) your family.

Every new adventure brings different financial needs, so take time to adjust your finances to your real life. This advice pertains to your budget, spending, saving, investing, goal-setting, and more. Make 2021 the year of alignment, where your money is truly representative of your life.

For example, buying a new home sets off a chain reaction of other expenses like automating mortgage payments, saving for property taxes, figuring out utilities, and budgeting for new paint and furniture for the nursery.

The bottom line is your finances will need to adapt to your lifestyle. No matter how well you plan, life will always shift and you’ll need to align your finances with those changes to stay on track. 

3. Build Up Your Emergency Fund and Adapt Your Savings Plan.

Did you have to dip into your emergency fund to cover unexpected 2020 expenses? If so, don’t worry, that’s what the fund was there for. Your emergency fund helps safeguard your finances in an unexpected situation like a job loss, hospital needs, necessary travel, etc. 

Using emergency money to spot you in a pinch is an essential financial planning tool. When you dip into this fund, it’s important to build the fund back up again. Throughout this year, allocate a portion of your savings to your emergency fund. 

While most advice encourages you to save 3 to 6 months of living expenses, you might want to increase that number if you have more debt, a family, inconsistent income, or you just want an extra cushion.

  • Was your emergency fund enough to cover your expenses? 
  • Do you need to save a little extra this year? 
  • How can you intentionally add to your fund?

It’s also prudent to reevaluate your savings strategy. Given the turbulence of 2020, you might want to save more of your take-home pay. Think about both the short-term and long-term goals you’re working toward. 

  • What can you do to further those goals? 
  • Did you add any new goals to the table like saving for a child’s education or planning a well-deserved vacation? 

Your goals should be the driving force behind your savings plan. When you look at your goals and savings in tandem, you’ll be better able to build a strategy tailored for you. 

4. Take Another Look at Your Cash Flow.

Cash flow is all about balancing money coming in and money going out. In times of stress, your cash flow management might be the first thing to go. When was the last time you checked your expenses? Are you surprised to see you’re subscribed to every new streaming service? Did you ever cancel that meal service you tried for the first-week promo?

The new year is a great time to check your spending habits. Try to do the following:

  • Track your spending. Whether it’s an app, excel sheet, or pen and paper. Knowing what goes out and what comes in will help you trim your budget, freeing up more for saving and investing. 
  • Ditch the negative spending habits. Every one of us has negative spending habits we’d like to kick to the curb – retail therapy, excessive dining-out, liberal use of Amazon Prime, etc. Be honest with yourself about where you fall short and take productive steps to make healthier choices. 
  • Bring intention to your spending. Spending money well becomes a lot simpler when it’s done with intention. Ask yourself, does your purchase bring you joy? (Note we said joy, not happiness). Is your spending aligned with your goals, values, and priorities? Does your spending lead to lackluster financial results? When you reframe spending in this way, it becomes more natural to infuse spending with your values. 
  • Prioritize your savings. Part of maximizing cash flow is ensuring you have enough of your income saved and invested. You want to establish a strong emergency fund, contribute to your retirement accounts, save for other goals, and invest in the markets. 

Remember, financial planning is an ongoing process. Your spending, saving, and investing will likely fluctuate, which is why your goals and values are essential to guiding the process. When you lean on goals and values, you’ll have a clearer sense of what to do next or at least have the right questions to help you get there. 

5. Zero-In on Your Investments.

When you think about a pandemic you probably don’t think about focusing on your investment plan, but that’s exactly what you should do. Many find it difficult to continue investing during tumultuous times, but for most people the best course of action is to stick with your plan. 

When you build your investment plan with a trusted advisor, you can be confident your plan takes into account your risk tolerance and capacity, time horizon, and goals. If you’re thinking about adjusting your allocations, ask yourself:

  • Has your risk tolerance or capacity changed? 
    • If so, work with your advisor to change your allocations to better reflect your preferences. 
  • Are you near a big life transition? 
    • Perhaps you’re starting a business or just had your first child and you need access to more cash. These life moments might also mean you and your advisor should revisit your allocations to ensure they still align with current and future circumstances. 
  • Have your long-term goals changed? 
    • Still hoping to retire by 40? Do you want to open your own business? If your long-term goals haven’t changed, it’s likely best to leave your investments alone. Investing is built for the long-haul. Even though there will be ups and downs along the way, it’s key to remain as calm as possible and take change one thoughtful step at a time.

If you can afford to remain invested, it’s usually best that you do. Your investments set you up for reaching future goals and maximizing the future you. 

Take Your Finances to the Next Level

Though many would say 2020 wasn’t the most financially prosperous year, today marks a new year and new opportunities to take control of your financial life. One of the best ways to do that is to work with a financial advisor. Your advisor will be able to help you transform your financial resources to support the things that matter most to you. 

Your money has purpose and meaning when you align it with your goals and values. We’d love to help you make those critical connections with your finances this year. Set up a time to talk with us today!  

What Makes Your Financial Goals SMART?

What Makes Your Financial Goals SMART?

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself. When spotting an issue, you might jump into problem-solving mode without even thinking. Say someone is renovating an old house and decides their first step is to paint the front door. This plan doesn’t make sense and is not smart because it’s not prudent to do the finishing touches without addressing the larger structural issues first.

You can apply the same idea to your finances.

There may be many changes you want to make with your money. Maybe you want to invest more, or double down on your retirement savings, or ensure next year you get that dream vacation.

But before you buy non-refundable airline tickets or dump a hefty chunk into your portfolio, you need to see how these changes fit into your existing plan and how to accommodate them.

The starting point? Your goals. Many people struggle with goal setting, so we’re going to walk you through a technique that helps you create more intentional goals today:  SMART goals.

What Are SMART Goals?

The SMART acronym dominates the business landscape and can be applied to nearly any type of goal you set – from personal to financial and more. 

  • S (specific)
  • M (measurable)
  • A (attainable)
  • R (relevant)
  • T (time-bound)

The SMART strategy brings clarity, purpose, vision, and intention into your goal regime. Instead of simply stating a goal, SMART goals ask you to dig deeper and make a plan for achieving it. What do each of these items mean and how do they work in practice? Glad you asked. 

1. Specific

Specific goals cut through vague notions and provide tangible, concrete conclusions. The more specific the goal, the more actionable it can be. Specific goals clarify your true objective, which enhances the rest of your plan’s construction. 

For example, instead of saying you want to invest, say you want to invest at least $50 a month in your brokerage account for the rest of this year. 

2. Measurable 

Not only should you make your goals specific, you should also have a plan to gauge their success. Measurable goals help you set milestones and track your progress along the way. 

If you’re investing at least $50 a month, you will clearly be able to see if you’re following through. A solid way to ensure your savings stay on track is to automate them. That way, you’ll meet your benchmarks and can always add more as needed. 

3. Attainable

If you’re juggling a full-time job, mortgage bills, raising children, etc. it’s important to set goals you can actually accomplish. Money might be tight right now, especially during the pandemic, so you might not be able to add an extra $200 to your portfolio each month. But you might reasonably be able to do $50! 

You want to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, but you can’t do it with an unrealistic vision. Know where you are and set goals that push you but don’t impose on other aspects of your life.

4. Relevant

Your goals should have purpose. Goals without purpose lack meaning and don’t get done. If you aren’t setting goals that will expand your life, it’s time to change your process. 

Relevant goals also help you prioritize short-term, more annual goals. While it’s always wise to apply consistency to long-term goals, you don’t want to ignore short-term ones. 

Perhaps you have a goal to replenish your emergency fund. That’s incredibly relevant and can support you should something unexpected happen. You might commit to funneling $50 into a highly liquid, safe account until the number is where you need it. 

5. Time-bound

Time-bound goals provide a deadline for your goals. So if you invest $50 a month for 6 months then increase your contributions by another $50 for 6 months (and so on), the time frame helps keep you accountable and encourage progress. 

As you can see, all of these ideas play off each other. Even though each is separate, they come together to create a more well-rounded solution. 

SMART Examples

Let’s compare a traditional goal example and a SMART one. Take a retirement savings goal from an early-career professional: 

Example #1: Increase retirement savings.

Example #2: Increase 401(k) contributions to 10% and supplement savings by opening an IRA with automating contributions (about 5%) for the rest of the year. 

It’s probably easy to see why the second example is the SMART goal. It’s specific by designating which accounts to target and what salary percentage to contribute. It’s measurable by taking advantage of compound savings and automating contributions. It’s attainable because this person received a salary increase and can proportionally allocate their resources. It’s relevant to their retirement savings journey and time-bound for the year they set.  

This exercise encourages you to think critically about what you want and the work it takes to achieve it. SMART goals don’t just show you the reward, they also build the path.

Should Your Goals Come First?

While there are different schools of thought, our team believes your financial goals should come before creating the plan. 

Your goals can then chart the course for structuring your finances in a way that’s unique to you. Someone who wants to retire early, for example, will need a different savings plan than someone who wants to wait until they’re 70. 

Once you know what you’re working toward, you can take it step-by-step. So before changing your financial plan, check on your goals and ask yourself:

  • Will this change bring you closer to achieving one or more of your goals?
  • Will the action harm or hinder your progress?
  • Do you need to change your plan to best meet your needs?

Make Your Goals SMART-er

While SMART goals prioritize detail, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the big picture. Your biggest dreams, goals, and aspirations are important and can set the stage for creating more focused SMART goals. 

Want to buy a vacation house? That is an amazing  goal, but you must know the actionable steps to reach it. Do you need to allocate more money for this goal? What is your ideal timeline? Is this goal impeding other top priorities like retirement or education costs?

In addition to creating SMART goals, amplify them further by:

  • Understanding the big picture and where your goals fit in
  • Distinguish between short- and long-term goals
  • Establish clear priorities
  • Use your values as a guide
  • Revise and revisit as needed

Your goals don’t stand still. Be sure you make intentional updates that best reflect your needs, both now and in the future. 

The Bottom Line

Your goals set the foundation for the rest of your financial plan. Why not make them even better through clarity and purpose with SMART goals? By digging deeper into your goals, you’ll make changes that make sense for the future you want to create. 

Remember: a crumbling exterior with a cute front door won’t do you any good, just like applying changes to your money without a solid support plan won’t lead to success. Ready to revamp your goal setting? We would love to talk with you.

What Is a Money Script (And How Does It Impact Your Finances?)

What Is a Money Script (And How Does It Impact Your Finances?)

Much of our daily behavior relies on habits. Take your morning routine. Do you jump right out of bed or do you snooze a few cycles? Are you a brush-your-teeth-before-breakfast or after- breakfast type of person? Do you tie your shoes with a single or double loop? Some of these things you might not even notice unless pointed out to you. They are learned behaviors and preferences that move you through the world, and they greatly impact your life. Researchers found this same principle applies to money.Your views, attitudes, and belief system about money shape the way you approach, discuss, and further your financial vision. The unwritten rules dictating your financial life are known as a money script.

Money scripts demonstrate your belief system about money and can illuminate both good and bad financial habits you’ve developed over the years. Knowing your money script can empower you to make actual, tactical changes to your financial life. 

What Are Money Scripts?

In 2011, financial psychologist Brad Klontz and his research team published a study in the Journal of Financial Therapy about people’s reactions to money-related statements like “It’s not polite to talk about money,” or “Things would be better if only I had more money.” 

These statements were meant to gauge people’s views and biases about money and how it operates in their lives. What Klontz and his team found was that people held four different systems of belief, which he called money scripts. He notes these beliefs are typically unconscious and likely learned during childhood and adolescence. 

Think back to the way your parents or guardians talked about money: 

  • Did they pinch pennies and maintain a frugal lifestyle?
  • Were they stressed about money?
  • How did they approach the topic of money with you, if at all?
  • Did they have disdain for people with either a lot of or very little money?

These questions help you think critically about money beliefs you’ve been internalizing for decades, and are correlated with your behavior and financial wellness. Let’s look at Klontz’s four money scripts and how they can help you understand your financial actions.

1. Money Avoidance

Does thinking about, talking about, or managing your money cause stress and anxiety? Do you envy people with more money? If so, you may fall into the money avoidance category. 

Money avoidance, Klontz found, is a fascinating paradox: someone can assume money is bad or tainted but still believe money will solve their problems. Money avoidance suggests that living without money elevates your moral status, which often leads to self-sabotage, doubt, and unhappiness with your wealth. 

Money avoidance may lead to giving away more money than you have (whether to family, friends, or charities) in an unconscious effort to decrease your worth.  Sticking to this script can also lead to not thinking about money, ignoring financial statements, and struggling to create and stick with a budget.

Actionable Resources to Fix Avoidance

Just because you fall into one of these scripts doesn’t mean the rest of your life is defined by them. Understanding your money script can help challenge you to make intentional improvements in your financial life. By employing healthy actions, you can assume a new outlook on how money affects your well being. 

Money avoiders benefit from:

  • Checking-in on your money.
    • Instead of saving your statements for another day, make today the day you look at your credit card bill. 
    • Throw away the budget not working for you and start from scratch. Use a digital platform or app to track your spending habits.
    • Set regular check-in intervals, (i.e. weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to bring added structure to your plan. 
  • Re-defining the role money plays in your life.
    • Right now you see money as a negative element. Re-think that space and list ways money can positively impact your life and others, like reaching your goals, eliminating debt, charitable giving, etc. 

2. Money Worship

Let’s start with a few money statements:

  • Money is the key to happiness.
  • Money can solve any problem.
  • There will never be enough money. 

Do any of these statements ring true for you? If so, you may fall into the category Klontz calls money worship. 

This mindset leads people to believe that money is the end-goal. In the quest for accumulating wealth as rapidly as possible, people are left with an empty void since there will never be “enough” money to meet their ever-changing wants. People may prioritize work over family and other relationships and tend to overspend to maintain their prized status. 

Money worship takes retail therapy to heart by seeking to buy new things to bring a sense of happiness, purpose, and meaning. The problem is money can’t buy happiness, and this habit ends up leaving people miserable and in debt. 

Tips to Make Money a Means, Not the End. 

Money is a tool to help achieve your goals. But when money takes center stage, goals and dreams fall to the wayside. Here’s how you can redefine where money falls on your priority list:

  • Bring your goals into focus.
    • Money is a vehicle to help reach your goals. When this gets blurry in the chase for more money, stop and think about your truest life goals. What’s at the top of the list? What do you value? How can your money bring about those values and goals? When money goes out of focus, your goals can take center stage.
  • Give with intention.
    • Building charitable contributions into your plan can structure your finances in support of personally meaningful causes and organizations that also help others. Giving shifts your gaze from chasing money to seeing it work in other’s lives. 
  • Curb impulse spending.
    • Let’s face it: shopping can be a thrill. It’s great to jump into a cozy new sweater or enjoy that new car smell, but the novelty wears off and can lead to buyer’s remorse. Before you purchase something new, take time to think about how that purchase fits with your goals. Does it further them or detract from them? Why do you want this new item? These questions get you thinking mindfully about what you purchase and why which can lead to better buying decisions.

3. Money Status

Closely linked to money worship, money status conflates net-worth and self-worth. This money script epitomizes the “Keeping Up with the Joneses” mentality. People lavishly overspend and maintain a lifestyle they can’t afford to impress those around them. This leads to lifestyle inflation which compromises their ability to save for the future.

Klontz’s research suggests a money status script can lead people to believe if they live a good life, the universe will reward them financially for their good behavior. He also found this script can lead to gambling and hiding spending habits from a spouse or family member.

Money status can be tough to deal with as society frequently pushes us to buy a house we can’t afford, upgrade our cars because we deserve it, and make random purchases under the guise of “self-care.” But this mindset doesn’t set you up for future success. 

How to Change the Definition

Money doesn’t define you. This can’t be said enough. While it might be hard to not indulge in the present, tracking your spending and saving will set you up for happiness in the future. When you manage your present money needs with foresight into your future needs, you can find that balance between saving for tomorrow and living for today. 

  • Strive for financial and emotional health.
    • In life and in money, there needs to be a balance. It’s critical to find a balance that works for you and aligns with your values and goals. 
  • Spend and save with intention.
    • When you spend with intention, you find you actually spend less. Before making a purchase, assess how it aligns with your goals and values. Is this purchase a bandaid or status symbol, or does it actually further your vision and improve your life?
    • The same idea applies to saving. When you have a goal for saving and investing money, you have more stake in its success. This brings about a more meaningful savings strategy so you can take that dream vacation, do your house remodel, send your kids to college, and retire with the lifestyle you want. 

4. Money Vigilance

This script involves people approaching their financial lives with swift practicality, logic, and thoughtfulness. Money vigilance tends to mean people view money as a byproduct of hard work, discipline, and frugality. People with this mindset aren’t waiting for a financial windfall or diligently scratching lottery tickets, instead, they approach money from a tactical perspective.

Unsurprisingly, Klontz views this script as the most financially stable and healthy one in the bunch. However, money vigilance can sometimes indicate a fear over one’s financial future, which can lead to anxiety and a lack of balance between spending and saving. This mindset can also mean people are private about finance matters and aren’t comfortable talking about their money with others. 

Tips to Save for Tomorrow and Live for Today

Money vigilant people can find it difficult to enjoy the money they have. Fears over the financial future can lead to anxiety, lack of sleep, and decreased life satisfaction. It’s key to find balance between spending and saving so you can enjoy your life now and in the future. 

Create a “fun” bucket in your savings account. This could be for anything you want — a day trip skydiving, dinner at your favorite restaurant, trying out a new hobby. Take time to enjoy the money you save. While frugality is an excellent trait, spending money on people, places, and experiences that mean something to you can lead to fulfillment and purpose. 

Rewrite Your Money Script

Remember, these money scripts aren’t set in stone and don’t have to define your future actions. Knowing how you relate to money now simply reveals previously undiscovered financial habits that can provide insight into how you view and manage money. 

No matter which category you fall into, take note of where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What steps can I take to improve my relationship with money?
  • How can I balance spending and saving?
  • What are my core values and are my current financial habits supporting those values?
  • In what ways can my goals better align with my financial actions?

Our team loves helping people build a life they love. It starts by having a healthy relationship with money and using that healthy money outlook to expand your life. Ready to learn more? Set up a call today.

Why Should You Care About Financial Planning?

Why Should You Care About Financial Planning?

Money is a tool; a tool that can help you shape, design, and live the life you want. Way too often, people talk about money as the destination, when it’s really a medium to facilitate the journey. Financial planning can take your money game up a notch by bringing clarity, strategy, and intention to your financial life. It can illuminate your priorities and get you thinking about money differently. A healthy financial plan gives you the tools to take control of your finances and start living your life with passion, purpose, and freedom.

So what’s the value of a financial plan? Let’s take a look.

Provides Confidence and Clarity 

One reason money can be so hard to manage is we don’t talk about it enough. Society tells us money is a taboo, private matter. We avoid it with our parents, change the subject with our partners, skirt the details with our friends, and are embarrassed to bring it up at work. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. 

Financial literacy doesn’t come out of thin air. It has to be discussed and fleshed out to get right. 

Financial planning can give you the tools, resources, and confidence to conduct your financial life on solid footing. This information not only illustrates where you are, it also provides intentional moves to get where you want to be. 

A financial plan looks at your assets and liabilities, short-term and long-term needs, as well as your goals to structure your finances in a way that suits you. Want to retire early? A financial plan can define your current savings plan, investment allocations, risk profile, desired lifestyle, projected expenses, and more to achieve that goal.

Financial planning shatters many allusions you might have about how money works. The right plan can help you invest, make better spending and savings plans, and develop healthy financial habits. It gives you the confidence to use your money in the best ways possible.

Prevents Costly Mistakes

Losing money is never pleasant, especially when it could have been avoided. Financial planning can help bypass mistakes and unnecessary errors in your money life. This could come in many forms:

  • Negative spending habits
  • Little to no emergency fund
  • Inadequate investment vehicles
  • Improper risk management and insurance coverage
  • Making emotional financial decisions
  • Overpaying on taxes
  • Acquiring unnecessary debt
  • Incurring penalties and fees

Let’s look at a few of these examples more in-depth.

Tax Planning. A proactive tax plan can save you thousands of dollars every year. It can help leverage your investments, make the most out of capital gains and losses, and lower your taxable income. You can accomplish this task in several ways like strategic charitable giving, maxing out your retirement accounts, tax-loss harvesting, and more. Without a tax plan, you could increase your tax bill and potentially incur needless penalties.

Financial planning brings essential tax-efficiency to your financial choices. With the right plan, your tax needs are baked into your financial choices. 

Emotional Investment Choices. A top mistake we’ve seen this year is investors making emotional decisions in the market. Volatility is one thing, but the bear market in March was tough for many people. Even those with a financial plan struggled to stick to their carefully crafted strategy. Emotional decisions, especially investment ones, can be quite costly. Pulling yourself out of the market could lead to an onslaught of tax responsibilities and derail your progress.

When you have a financial plan and an advisor you trust, you’re in a better position to weather market ups and downs. You will have an investment strategy that already accounts for your risk tolerance, capacity, time horizon, and goals. While you’ll still experience volatility, you’ll be in a better position to handle those swings.

Inadequate Emergency Fund. Your emergency fund protects against unforeseen circumstances like job loss, medical bills, unexpected travel, home malfunctions, and more. During the pandemic, many people drew from their emergency fund to cover an income dip or medical expenses. Without this cash reserve, you might have to resort to credit cards, personal loans, or family loans which could put additional strain on already difficult times.

A healthy financial plan ensures all of your bases are covered in an emergency. This means having at least 3-6 months of living expenses earmarked in a highly-liquid account, maintaining proper insurance coverage, and building the right cash-flow management.

Gives Access to Funds with Lower Fees

Let’s face it, investors hate fees. Fees can comprise a significant portion of your investment portfolio, especially for novice investors who may not know the fee structure of certain mutual funds and/or broker/dealer investment strategies. But these elements are crucial to keeping fees low, so you can enjoy more of the returns. 

A financial planner can illuminate these fees and carve a path that makes the most sense for you. Your professional can explain different management strategies and highlight the best ones for your needs. Most advisors who promote low-cost investing operate under passive investment management. 

Instead of picking and choosing individual investments with high hopes of timing the market, passive management zeroes in on underlying indexes and benchmarks like the S&P 500. This strategy tracks these indexes and builds a portfolio that mirrors its activity. Since the funds are tracking an index, costs are much lower. Why?

  • The advisor isn’t cherry-picking investments. That cuts down on time and advisor fees.
  • Most funds have a trading fee. The less buying and selling, the smaller the fees. 
  • Access to lower-cost investments like index funds and ETFs.

Helps You Negotiate Raises

Are you long overdue for a raise? Asking for a raise can be an uncomfortable subject, but it’s critical to take control of your financial wellness. Our team knows broaching a pay raise – even when your experience and skills warrant it – can be a challenge. This is especially true for women. 

A Randstad survey found 60% of women have never negotiated their salary with an employer and would rather look for employment elsewhere. But this number isn’t from lack of trying. A Marketplace-Edison Research poll found that men and women both ask for raises with similar frequency, 37% for men and 36% for women. However, only 72% of women who ask for a raise get one, compared to 82% of men. 

With women already at a disadvantage with the wage and wealth gap, it is essential to advocate for their value and worth in the workplace. Here are some tools to help you ask for the raise you deserve:

  • Do Your Research
    • What is the market salary for your position, skills, and experience? What is a comparable salary internally but also externally? Knowing what other professionals at your level are paid can provide a benchmark for your salary.
  • Communicate Your Accomplishments
    • Even though you know the value you bring to the office every day, it’s vital to accurately communicate those accomplishments to your superior. Give specific examples, point to demonstrated success, and find examples of positive impact and growth. 
  • Set Yourself, and Your Company Up for Success
    • Let your boss know you want to schedule a meeting to discuss your position and compensation. This courtesy will give you both time to prepare.
    • Know what you are willing to walk away with. 
    • Don’t sell yourself short.

A raise can have a notable impact on your finances. It can help you save for your future, like increasing retirement contributions or investing in the market. A raise can also impact short-term goals like building an emergency fund, supplementing tuition payments for your child, or funding that dream vacation. 

Affords Peace of Mind

Money can be stressful. Striking the right balance between saving, spending, and investing is a challenge, but the right advice can put you on the path to success. Managing money has many moving parts, making it critical to have someone in your corner to help structure your finances in a way that’s true to you. 

Financial planning offers peace of mind, a state easily forgotten in the whirlwind this year has been. With a financial plan you can rest easy knowing your money is working for you, and knowing you’re taking care of your present and future needs. 

We love helping people take control of their money and find financial freedom. Get in touch with us today.